Sun, Fun & Fascination: Studying In Morocco

by Joel Tan

Morocco, the westernmost country in continental Africa, is everything an exchange student can hope for in a destination, from sandy coastlines to ruins of ancient buildings. A study program in Morocco immerses foreign students in Arabic culture with a unique African perspective, the result of centuries of cultural upheavals. Here are a few more activities students can do, or places they can visit, while studying abroad in Morocco:

Camel Caravan in the desert

That Mediterranean Sun

Morocco is blessed with a long coastline stretching from the south and west facing the Atlantic Ocean to the north facing the Strait of Gibraltar and the Mediterranean Sea. While the Atlantic coastline offers tourists great fun in the sun, especially for surfboarding enthusiasts, the Mediterranean coast is where most rest and relaxation happens because the sea is warm and calm.

Bask in the Mediterranean sun in Tetouan, a city in northern Morocco, which offers some of the most beautiful beaches in the region. The weather is generally balmy and perfect for an entire day on the beach. Visitors also stroll in the medina (or old town) of Tetouan, which is on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage List.

That Sahara Moon

Have you ever noticed that the stars and brightly glowing moon are much clearer and more visible the farther you are from the city? Now you know why luxury camping and tours in the Moroccan Sahara is prized. One of the well-known operators of these luxury camps is Specialist Morocco, which has a safari-style camp set up about seven hours from Marrakech. There are no clouds in the middle of the Sahara, making for a perfectly clear night sky. What makes the experience even better is the cool crisp desert air.

Moroccan crafts

That Moroccan Leather

Also known as French maroquin or German saffian, this leather is highly prized because of its suppleness. It is commonly used for gloves and shoes and traditionally for wallets and book bindings. The best Moroccan leather comes from goat skin. In recent years, though, other animal skins, from sheep or calf, have been added. In the souks (local markets), are a variety of handcrafted leather items.

That Fabulous Cuisine

What's better than sampling the local cuisine? Why, learning how to cook it, of course! After trying a plate of tagine, a delicious stew of meat, fish, vegetable and fruit, try your hand at preparing the dish. The dish is named for the traditional Moroccan clay or ceramic cooking vessel that it’s prepared in, with a shallow circular dish and a dome or cone-shaped cover. Moroccans are big fans of cookies, and among the best are spicy, semi-sweet fekkas. These are twice-baked cookies composed of dough, onions, cheese, pepper, garlic and other seasonings. Fekkas go well with coffee or tea.

Moroccan cuisine

That Fascinating History

Due to its location at the western mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco has always been a point of conflict. Throughout Morocco's long and colorful history, control of the country has changed hands often, from the Berbers to the Roman Empire, from the Vandals and Visigoths to the Byzantine Empire, and from the Umayyad Muslims to the French and Spaniards. It is this rich history that Morocco successfully protects and nurtures through tourism.

Today, most of Morocco's tourism efforts are focused on its ancient cities, such as Fes, founded by the Idris in the late 700s; and Marakkech, which was the capital of the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties. A study abroad trip to Morocco just isn't complete without delving deep into its history.